Tomorrow ~ Who says we have to have industrial solar?

By Paul Quigg, columnist

Who says we have to have industrial solar in Page County? Where in the County Code does it say we have to have industrial solar? The Page County Comprehensive Plan, in one sentence,  says we can have industrial solar, but there is no inference that it is required.

How have we spent these many years and funds trying to adopt something which very few want?

One request was approved and another rejected, and we have hired “experts” and rejected their findings and hired non-experts and listened to their findings. The entire four-year process has been a comedy of errors, and we continue to stumble along.

The Comprehensive Plan could easily be amended and say something to the effect that “It has been determined after a long and careful study that industrial solar is incompatible with Page County’s farming and tourism goals.” Other arguments could point out the soil, topography, zoning, National Park boundary, and other reasons for rejecting industrial solar. We have gotten into a state of mind that we have to have some form of a solar ordinance, and that is not the case.

The citizens of Page County seem to overwhelmingly reject the need for industrial solar, and there is no legal requirement that we do so. The State has put forth an aggressive push for solar, but that does not mean we have to force it into areas where it is not suitable. 

Mr. Quigg, a University of Virginia graduate and resident of Luray, has practiced architecture in the Mid-Atlantic region since 1962. As a lifelong environmentalist, in the 70’s he was appalled at the polluted air and water and has dedicated much of his time since in studying and commenting on the environment. He has been published in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and other publications. 

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13 Comments

  1. As far as I can tell, the only people who are telling Page County to support industrial solar are business interests (or lawyers) who have convinced a few local landlords that they can make a steady income by ruining the environment (in the name of saving it). The future of Page County has always been in the farmland, mountains, the river, and the caverns. We are only two hours away from a rapidly growing metro area. The most valuable land in the county these days is probably the waterfront, where it is little doubt that a thousand wealthy suburbanites would happily build their huge second homes if given a chance. The residents of Page are literally sitting on a gold mine. The county board can make this county a place where the rest of Virginia throws their trash away, generates power on thousands of acres of farmland, and lets it gradually decline. OR, the board can think about making it more of a destination where business invests, generates tax income and attracts regional tourists. It’s our choice.

    • so you guys want to make laws like Sperryville so its impossible to build anything? It’s like a ghost town over there with rich people ad no phone service.

      • Yeah, we already have phone service, so we are ahead on points. Pick your poison. Planning matters. I think that downtown Luray could easily look more like Leesburg. Four or five square blocks of thriving businesses, restaurants, and lots of foot traffic. The big difference is that they actually have parking downtown, we don’t. Having the Hawksbill trail running through town is a huge plus that no business is taking advantage of right now. Anyway, the valley around Luray is gentrifying. Lots of vacant homes and nobody running the large older farms. They won’t sit around forever. Somebody is going to buy the golf course and change how that works, or maybe just sell parts of it. The recession that is about to hit will end, and one way or another, we won’t recognize this place in a decade or so. Luray can either be a slightly-artsy place where people come to build their big house and spend time and money on vineyards and other good land-use projects, or we can take the low road and build acres of power plants. I guess I’d rather look like Sperryville.

  2. There was nothing that said the telephone had to be invented. There was nothing that said the electric light bulb and motors had to be invented. There was nothing that said automobiles had to be invented. There was nothing that said…X 10/23rd power.

    • Robert, with all do respect. In this day and age citizens are concerned that their opinions and voices will not be properly respected by others. Using a pen name is nothing new. After all Madison, Hamilton, and Jay did the same thing writing The Federalist.

      • The pseudonym chosen by the writers of the “Federalist Papers” was done for this reason: It wasn’t to hide, and proves you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.
        “Alexander Hamilton recruited Madison and Jay to write the essays and chose Publius as the pseudonym under which the series would be written, in honor of the great Roman Publius Valerius Publicola. The original Publius is credited with being instrumental in the founding of the Roman Republic. Hamilton believed he would be instrumental with the founding of the American Republic.”

  3. no,we don’t need industrial solar here. Page county is an ag community.we grow food as our contribution to society. Solar belongs in areas that aren’t productive in other ways. as the population continues to increase,more food will be needed. Taking land out of ag use reduces the availability of land for food production., in our case for 40 years. say what you like about industrial solar,but those panels will never be good to eat.

  4. Fortunately, the comprehensive plan refers to the need to be careful with karst topography, and the solar ordinance heading to public hearing on June 28 makes note of that. Because of karst–basically a dissolving landscape–we have caverns, caves, and sinkholes. Underground water flows in many directions and is uncharted. The Racey Engineering Report for the Dogwood solar factory (approved, sadly) states that wells as far away as 9 miles can be damaged by the project. The entire zoning ordinance for the county is in the process of being updated We have an excellent planning commission, chaired by a farmer and with several members who are farmers, and I am sure they will do a great job of protecting our key industry of agriculture and also our significant tourist industry. They are proposing restricting development on 340N, which is already designated as a scenic byway (no place for industrial solar and the proposed Cape solar factory) and needs to be preserved as the major entrance way to Luray from Front Royal.

  5. We need an ordinance so that we don’t have to go through another round of nonsense regarding individual applications. An ordinance also protects against litigation. Frederick County approved 2 solar factories, decided they had enough, and denied a third. Urban Grid, the same company that is trying so hard to get the Cape project on 340N, sued. Now there are 4. Other counties have ended up with as many as 16, all on good productive farmland. The ordinance approved by the planning commission limits the total acreage that can be used for solar and places important conditions on type of land, slope, etc. It also requires an engineering study prior to consideration so that any negative effects can be reviewed–like Dogwood putting at risk wells as far away as 9 miles. It will basically prevent the ongoing headaches of inappropriate solar applications. Right now, we don’t know how many are sitting in the office waiting, in case the moratorium expires.

  6. Cathy, You have a point I didn’t consider. I am not familiar with the legal mumbo-jumbo which is deeply involved in the solar industry. The last thing we want to do is leave ourselves open to legal challenges.

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